The Kaizen Newsletter #23 (11/12/2019)

How to become more consistent

It's been around 6 weeks that I've been following Julian's Building Muscle handbook and although I'm not exactly where I want to be muscle/weight wise, I've never as consistent in doing what is required. In this case, I need to have 7h of sleep every day, eat 2500 calories (with at least 120g of protein) and go to the gym 3x per week.

I’ve mentioned it previously, but I’m usually VERY inconsistent. And since I’m “magically” consistent in following this program, I decided to analyze the reasons why and share them with you. I attribute my new found consistency to the following:

  • Competition

  • Visibility

  • Doing it every day

Competition

If you’re competitive like me, then obviously one of the easiest ways to ensure you do something is making it a game or competition. Don’t like doing the dishes? Start timing yourself so that every time you try and beat your previous record. Want to read more? FFind someone else to read the book with you and place a bet on who would finish the book first (and force yourselves to make a summary at the end to ensure you also understand what you're reading)!

For this program, I forced my friend to do it with me. And since both of us are competitive, I put some incentives ($$$) on the line rewarding the one who would be the most consistent throughout the program.

With an incentive on the line, I definitely make sure to not fall back and keep up with my roommate and vice-versa. We both don’t want to lose, so we both force each other to accomplish everything we need to do.

Visibility

I think this was truly eye-opening for me (visibility...eye-opening...no? ok...), since this really helped me in being more consistent.

I always tried to track my habits using a bunch of different productivity tools. I tried excel sheets, plenty of apps (trello, keep, todoist, etc.) and even writing a to-do list every day and although I always had momentum at the beginning, I would forget to do it one day and it'll go downhill from there.

Since I wanted an easy way for both my friend and I to track our daily tasks, I decided to buy a calendar that I put on the kitchen wall where we'd be able to check off all the tasks we've done during the day.

So why does this work better than the others? It works two-fold.

One is because once you start marking your calendar, you don't want to stop. See the empty white space on October 14th? I'm a tad OCD, so it really annoys me to see something that stands out compare to the rest so that alone would force me to stay on track.

Two is that I see this every single day and multiple times a day. I'm a VERY forgetful person, so sometimes I just don't think of opening my excel sheet or my app, whereas I don't even need to think of looking at my calendar since I see first thing in the morning. So right away, there's a signal in my head that reminds me to make sure I have 7h of sleep, to eat enough calories and go to the gym if it's my workout day.

Doing it Every Day

There's a quote I found from Delian on Twitter that describes exactly this.

Once again, the less you have to use willpower to do something the better. So if you have to do something EVERY DAY instead of just a couple of times a week, then it becomes ingrained in your brain and eventually a habit.

Not only that, if you're forced to do something every single day, then you can't make excuses like "Oh well, I'll just do it tomorrow".

So that's what I did for a few habits. I only need to get 7h of sleep and eat 2500 calories on gym days, so instead, I decided to try and do both every day.

And after 6 weeks, it definitely has been ingrained, since I always try to find a way to get both. I constantly think about what I will be eating and always making sure that if I sleep later, I can also wake up later to get my 7h of sleep.

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If there’s one thing I would choose out of the three, it would definitely be to have a visual queue for your habit tracker/to-do list. You don’t need to have a calendar as I have, but make sure it’s easy to access and that you look at it EVERY DAY.

Now, on to the newsletter.


Weekly Favourites

📄 Articles

  • Mental Prisons by Ryan Kulp - Mental prisons are all about frameworks or excuses that we use that will negatively impact our lives. The best example of this is when we self-box ourselves into a career. Like I'm a designer, an engineer, a product manager, a salesperson, etc. Which then creates a limiting belief that we can't be anymore more than just that. A really good exercise I would suggest doing after this article is trying to identify a few of your mental prisons and see how you can change it.

  • How to write like the great entrepreneurs - I might have shared this before, but I stumbled into it once again. A really quick read that gives you a lot of good quick tips on how to improve your writing.

📺 TV Shows

  • Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates - Amazing docuseries on Bill Gates. I watched the first two episodes (there's three in total) and I really like the format of the show. Each episode they take one global health issue the Gates foundation is tackling and how he's trying to solve it and in parallel, they also discuss his journey on how he was in high school up all the way to now. One thing I learned is this guy is definitely a genius and I would 100% trust him with my money instead of any government. I also realized that I have to read A LOT more if I want to become at least 1% of what he is.

🐦 Tweets

  • These are the habits I'll be working on to add in the next couple of months

  • Through the below video was AMAZING until I found out a couple of days later that this is Hvaldimir, a whale that escaped a Russian military program and now relies on humans for affection and food (see tweet below). It just goes to show how awesome Twitter is.

  • These animal tweets are the best.

🎧 Music

Albums

Songs

🙏 Shoutouts

  • Shoutout to my dev team (Rob and Stanley) at work. We had a pretty big emergency at work, but with the help of our devs we were able to find a solution and pull through 💪.


👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

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Feedback is always appreciated, so let me know what you liked and what I can improve on by replying to this email.

If you see any cool articles, links, tweets, stories or podcasts that you think are interesting, feel free to share as well at alex@alexhughsam.com